CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii -- The U.S. Pacific Command is holding a large-scale multinational maritime exercise from June 26 through Aug. 1 around the Hawaiian Islands. Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise involves 22 nations, 48 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 military personnel.
RIMPAC is a biannual theater security cooperation training event consisting of multilateral training with international partners throughout the Pacific region. Elements of training include maritime operations, humanitarian relief, warfighting capabilities as well as building cohesion among partner countries.
“It is an evolving exercise that is based on the evolving nature of the region,” said Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific and the Combined Forces Landing Component Command commander for the exercise. “It is evolving to make sure the exercise provides the goals and objectives for what participating countries want to accomplish when they come out here.
“Many of these countries travel thousands of miles to RIMPAC to participate,” he added. “It costs them a lot of money, a lot of effort and it takes a lot to get their forces here to participate. They do it because it’s in their national interest to come out here and develop their maritime capabilities that they use throughout the region. Furthermore, it’s important in our perspective to ensure the compatibility between their forces and our forces.”
Participants in RIMPAC will conduct drills at various locations around the Hawaiian Islands including Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.
This year’s RIMPAC marks the 24th iteration of the exercise and the largest RIMPAC to date. This will also be the first time Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China will participate.
Simcock also said while the physical region has not changed, the need for security and humanitarian assistance is an ever-growing necessity for the Pacific, which largely includes multinational collaboration of maritime operations.
“Many countries understanding those needs have come to the United States Marine Corps to assist them in developing those amphibious capabilities, and we very much welcome that,” Simcock said. “We look at that as a great opportunity not only for those countries asking us, but a great opportunity for our own amphibious forces to train with them, so that when a crisis strikes, our forces have trained with other countries’ forces so that we can respond in a timely manner. We need to ensure our forces are compatible in order to work together.”
The training also prepares MARFORPAC units to form a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) crisis response if situation dictates.
“We have an existing MAGTF (at Marine Corps Base Hawaii),” said Col. Timothy E. Winand, commanding officer for 3rd Marine Regiment and exercise CO for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force. “I’m not sure everyone understands that. We can put a MAGTF together fairly quickly, and we work together frequently. That is important for not only training but also real-world situations that happen throughout this theater. The fact we are doing RIMPAC together makes that easier.”
Units aboard MCB Hawaii will be key elements within the Special Purpose MAGTF formed for RIMPAC. This includes 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment as the ground combat element, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 as the aviation combat element and Combat Logistics Battalion 3 for the logistics element.
Winand said RIMPAC as a whole is training for all levels and encourages his Marines to take advantage of the opportunity to interact with international counterparts.
“This is training for us,” Winand said. “I want us to become more proficient from a warfighting perspective. I want us to be more comfortable with heliborne operations, when we do live fire, I want us to be comfortable employing our individual and crew-served weapons, I want the confidence of our small unit leaders to grow significantly.”
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is conducting one element of RIMPAC, giving Marines a unique opportunity to test and use experimental gear which could potentially be used in Marine Corps’ future operations.
There are more amphibious ships participating in this year’s RIMPAC than previously, giving Marines an opportunity to train shipboard in operations which formed the basis of the Corps’ reputation as sea-to-land warfighters.
“There are just so many training opportunities from an individual and unit perspective that go all the way down to the fire team and squad level,” Winand said. “This is a risky endeavor, we have live-fire training, we will be working with foreign military we haven’t worked with before, so it isn’t risk-free, but it will be a good experience. It is going to be intense. It’s going to be exciting.”
Countries participating this year will be Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.